Making interdisciplinary research work

There are considerable benefits in encouraging interdisciplinary research, particularly where the objective of the research is to achieve useful economic, social, environmental or cultural outcomes. The real world does not always present its problems and opportunities conveniently aligned with traditional academic disciplines so mechanisms are needed to facilitate interactions and collaborations between researchers working in widely different fields.

Making Interdisciplinary Research Work  (ARC Linkage Learned Academics Special Projects Funding 2010 project LS1000004) commenced in 2010 as a multiphase, multiyear, project in order to address two outstanding problems: the application of interdisciplinary research to broad, problem-based research and how to use this understanding to find effective ways of approaching the array of challenges confronting Australia.

 

Phase One: Strengthening interdisciplinary research. What it is, what it does, how it does it and how it is supported? Professor Gabriele Bammer. February 2012

Phase Two: The Character of Interdisciplinary Research. Examined through a sample of socio-environmental research projects. Professor Michael Webber, FASSA, November 2013 

Final Phase: Assistive Health Technologies for Independent Living – a pilot research project to test the findings from Making Interdisciplinary Research Work – Achieving a Sustainable Australia and Making Interdisciplinary Research Work – Evaluation Framework and Report September 2014

 

Background

The project comprised several components.

First Component: Critical Examination of Interdisciplinary Research in Australia and abroad (2010)

Component one, Strengthening Interdisciplinary Research – what it is, what it does, how it does it and how it is supported examined the status quo in the field of interdisciplinary research in Australia, made a number of key findings and presented a set of six recommendations.

Project Steering Committee 

Peter Laver AM (ATSE) (Chair)
Prof Dennis Altman (ASSA)
Prof Adrienne Clarke (ATSE)
Dr Sally Gras (AAS)
Prof Cliff Hooker (AAH)
Prof Stuart Macintyre  (ASSA)
Prof Tim Murray (AAH)
Prof Nick Martin (AAS)
Dr Graeme Pearman (ATSE)
Dr Zoe Sofoulis (AAH)
Prof Bob Williamson (AAS)
Dr Jacques de Vos Malan (ACOLA) (Project Manager)

Report

 Strengthening interdisciplinary research. What it is, what it does, how it does it and how it is supported? Professor Gabriele Bammer. February 2012.

Article in the Australian, The case for a team research framework, 28 March 2012, written by Professor Gabriele Bammer.

 

Second Component:  Interdisciplinary Research Applications for Sustainable Resource Utilisation; and
Sustainable Growth – Interdisciplinary Research Applications for Economic, Social and Cultural Prosperity (2011-2012)

This second and third component of the program, The character of interdisciplinary research - examined through a sample of socio-environmental research projects, builds on the foundation established in Strengthening Interdisciplinary Research, examining in detail interdisciplinary research related to environmental sustainability.

Project Steering Committee

Peter Laver AM (ATSE) (Chair)
Prof Peter Andrews (ATSE)
Prof Meredith Edwards (ASSA)
Dr Sally Gras (AAS)
Prof Cliff Hooker (AAH)
Prof Nick Martin (AAS)
Dr Graeme Pearman (ATSE)
Prof Elspeth Probyn (AAH)
Dr Zoe Sofoulis (AAH)
Prof Bob Williamson (AAS)
Prof Lynette Yates (ASSA)
Dr Jacques de Vos Malan (ACOLA) (Project Manager)

Report

 A short guide to the report. The Character of Interdisciplinary Research

 (9MB) The Character of Interdisciplinary Research. Examined through a sample of socio-environmental research projects. Professor Michael Webber, FASSA. 

 

Final Component:  Assistive health technologies for independent living: a pilot study. Lessons Learned for Interdisciplinary Research: Good Practice (2013-2014)

The final component of Making interdisciplinary research work will road test the model of interdisciplinary research developed in the first two reports using a ‘live’ scenario to address one of the key challenges confronting Australia today. Assistive Health Technologies for Independent Living: A Pilot Study will look at the need to enable elderly and disabled individuals to live longer within their own home through the application of smarter and more cost-effective approaches to assistive technologies.  The project will explore the benefits of an interdisciplinary approach to the technological, social and ethical issues surrounding technology- based solutions for aged and disabled housing.

The practicality, usefulness and relative importance of including (or omitting) the key considerations identified to date by Making interdisciplinary research work will be monitored during the execution of the final project.

Project Steering Committee

Mr Peter Laver AM, FTSE (Chair)
Professor Leon Mann FASSA
Professor Karen Reynolds FTSE
Professor Rod Tucker FAA
Professor Alison Bashford FAHA
Dr Jacques de Vos Malan, Observer (General Manager, ACOLA Secretariat)

Expert Working Group

Professor Greg Tegart AM FTSE (co-chair) 
Associate Professor Elizabeth Ozanne 
Dr Erol Harvey FTSE (co-chair) 
Ms Anne Livingstone 
Professor Jeffrey Soar 
Dr Clarissa Martin

Reports

 Assistive Health Technologies for Independent Living – a pilot research project to test the findings from Making Interdisciplinary Research Work – Achieving a Sustainable Australia

 Making Interdisciplinary Research Work – Evaluation Framework and Report September 2014